Tillis/Cunningham Senate Race Not yet Called, but Top Cunningham Strategist Makes Important Concession
“Looks like Thom Tillis was re-elected at this point,” Cal Cunningham’s top political strategist said during a podcast Thursday.
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As of this writing, President Trump has 2,732,084 votes to Joe Biden’s 2,655,383 in the North Carolina presidential race. That’s a difference of 76,701 votes. In the NC Senate race, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has 2,640,379 votes to his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham’s 2,543,672, with the difference between them being 96,707 votes.
With that in mind, some are wondering why the state has yet to be called for Trump and Tillis considering the state board of elections website shows “100.00% precincts reported.”
The race hasn’t been called yet because as of Wednesday there were 116,000 absentee ballots yet to be accounted for. That number does NOT include anyone who may have requested a ballot but ended up voting in person on Election Day. And because of the September backroom shenanigans involving Democrat super-lawyer Marc Elias, NC’s Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein (who is on the ballot, of course), and the Democrat-controlled state board of elections, the deadline for receiving absentee ballots after Election Day was changed from 3 days to 9 days.
So a ballot that is postmarked by Election Day (11/3) can be received as late as November 12th (next Thursday) and still count assuming it was properly filled out (signed and with witness signature).
GOP leaders in the state legislature filed a lawsuit not long after they found out in September about the changes Democrats made behind closed doors to NC election law, but the Supreme Court ultimately allowed the revised deadline agreed upon by Elias, Stein, and the NCBSE as part of a prior lawsuit “settlement” with Democrat-aligned groups to stand.
In addition to those outstanding absentee ballots (which includes military ballots), the state reported Thursday that there are around 41,000 provisional ballots to review and process. At least 50% of those will probably be tossed out, as was the case with the provisional ballots from 2016.
The Raleigh News and Observer’s Tyler Dukes provided an update/analysis Friday morning on where the numbers on the remaining ballots stand:
County Election Boards have so far received ~32,000 accepted mail-in ballots since Election Day. But those ballots have not yet been included in the state's unofficial results. https://t.co/xU4kiJN9Te
They need to be approved by county boards in open meetings first.
— Tyler Dukes (@mtdukes) November 6, 2020
But that 171k figure is — and I cannot stress this enough — an *absolute maximum* of potential uncounted ballots.
The real figure is likely to fall far short for the caveats noted above.
— Tyler Dukes (@mtdukes) November 6, 2020
While there are some down-ballot races that could potentially be impacted by the final vote totals, which the state board of elections says they will release next Thursday or Friday, media outlets like the News and Observer are acknowledging that the final numbers are unlikely to propel Biden and Cunningham to victory:
With an estimated 172,000 potential ballots left to count, North Carolina’s election results are far from final.
But the updated tally is unlikely to change the results of the state’s two biggest races.
Even more importantly, Cal Cunningham’s top political strategist conceded in a podcast Thursday that it was likely that both Trump and Tillis won their races:
The Cunningham campaign is also signaling that they are not confident that there are enough outstanding votes to change the outcome.
Cunningham campaign manager Devan Barber said “we plan to allow the process to be carried out so every voter can have their voice heard.”
Cunningham’s top political strategist Morgan Jackson was more direct. In an interview on the “Tying it Together with Tim Boyum” podcast, Jackson said that “President Trump certainly has a lead now there are still ballots out to be counted and we’ll see what that looks like at the end of the day but it looks like he may have won North Carolina. Same with Senate race. Looks like Thom Tillis was re-elected at this point.”
But it looks like it might have hurt him:
Please send this to the multiple reporters and pundits that constantly wrote the scandal made no difference https://t.co/iaNGBZKrfF
— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) November 5, 2020
In 2016, Ross ran 2 and 3 points behind Clinton in Wake and Meck, respectively. So some of it is natural. But would be interesting to figure out how much is scandal related. https://t.co/DOWEUAaOW1
— Brian Murphy (@MurphinDC) November 5, 2020
If Tillis does end up being declared the winner, it will be a repeat of what happened in 2014 where he was behind in the polls against then-Sen. Kay Hagan (D) for much of the race but then surged late in the game thanks, in part, to negative stories about Hagan that broke in late September/early October. Tillis ended up winning in an election night nailbiter by 48,511 votes.
If Trump wins, he should receive all of North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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